It is very beneficial to develop a continuing relationship with primary care physicians, because they get to know you over the years. Therefore, they are more likely to notice changes in your health status.
Family care doctors can treat minor acute problems such as a cold or a flu as well help you manage chronic conditions. They can answer any questions you might have and refer you to a specialist, if needed. If take medications on an ongoing basis, they will write and renew your prescriptions.
You should start seeing a primary care physician before you actually need them. Schedule a check-up every year. At many institutions, you will have to schedule an appointment weeks or months in advance. Don’t wait to schedule an appointment, even if you don’t urgently need one at the moment.
On your first visit, your doctor will ask you about your and your family’s health history, especially major illnesses such as cancer, and about any medications you are currently taking and if you are experiencing any symptoms.
Prepare for your visit by writing down all major illnesses and conditions that you have had in the past or that you are still dealing with, all medications that you are taking (including their dosage), any questions that you might have about current or recent symptoms, what they are, what brings them on and what relieves them. Bring along any test results that you might have, for example if you recently went to an urgent care facility, and the results of regular screenings, such as mammograms.
Your doctor might schedule tests to investigate your symptoms. A blood test is usually ordered, even if you don’t have any concerns, in order to check your cholesterol and blood sugar levels. You will get the results a few days later and your doctor or a nurse will call you, if there are any concerns.
If your doctor comes to the conclusion that you need further evaluation or more testing, they will refer you to a specialist. Many insurance plans and also many specialists require that you see a primary care physician first to avoid unnecessary costs.
A good family doctor will also counsel you on the prevention of disease, such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, which are often caused by weight problems due to a lack of exercise, alcohol consumption and an unhealthy diet.
You can find a great family doctor by asking relatives, friends and co-workers. If you are not happy with the doctor during your first visit, especially if he or she is in a rush and doesn’t answer your questions, then look for another doctor. There are many great family doctors who will be happy to count you among your patients.